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Plaintiff: C. Douglas Thomas
Defendant: University of the District of Columbia
Damages Sought: Declaratory judgment, plus unspecified damages, attorneys’ fees, and costs
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Complaint: Thomas, of Moreland Hills, Ohio, wanted to go back to law school, so he submitted a transfer application to UDC’s David A. Clarke School of Law in October 2006. One problem: The last time Thomas was enrolled in law school was in 1974, when he was attending the University of Akron. Because it had been more than five years, UDC had Thomas apply as a new student. Another problem: The Akron law school couldn’t find records detailing Thomas’ time there. Thomas forwarded a letter saying as much to UDC, but six months later, the school told Thomas that his application was not being considered because the Akron records were missing. Thomas holds that this was a breach of the American Bar Association’s admissions standards—which, he says, require a school to evaluate a transfer student more than two years out “based on the nature of the interim work, activity, or studies indicating a strong potential for law study”—and calls on a federal court to make them follow those rules and process his application.
Quality of Representation: Thin, but competent. Thomas, writing his own complaint, uses a nice big font and numbers his arguments thoroughly. What he does not do, however, is cite any law that has been broken whatsoever—only ABA standards. Is this a civil-rights claim? Breach of contract? It’s hard to tell.
Summary Judgment: You do need law school after all. If filing this suit was an attempt to impress the UDC admissions committee with his need for further legal schooling, consider this a success. Thomas’ cause of action is pretty vague, but in federal court, pleadings need only be “simple, concise, and direct,” so we’ll let him have a shot at continuing his education. But whether the nature of this “interim work” indicates a “strong potential for law study” is still up to UDC.